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Concert Reviews:
Santana Engages, Celebrates Engagement At DTE

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, July 11, 2010

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- A Santana concert is usually a celebration of high spirits, good vibes and life-affirming music.

But Carlos Santana had even more to celebrate on Saturday (July 10) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

The night before, on stage in Chicago, Santana had proposed to his girlfriend, drummer Cindy Blackman -- best known for playing with Lenny Kravitz and a number of jazz artists -- and she accepted. There were still smiles aplenty when Blackman joined the 10-member Santana band on stage at DTE to play drums during a medley of "Saja," Marvin Gaye's "Right On" and Mos Def's "Umi Says," plus the group's hit cover of the Zombies' "She's Not There" -- after which Santana and Blackman exchanged a brief kiss.

Blackman also played percussion during the encores of the nearly two-hour show.

All of that lent an extra bit of emotional elevation to the show, which was, as usual, driven by Santana's stinging guitar solos and the thunderous polyrhythms of his two percussionists, and anchored by master drummer Dennis Chambers. The sassy "Jingo" set the tone for the evening as images of African dancers flashed on the rear-stage video screen, while "Corazon Espinado" from Santana's 1999 multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning album "Supernatural" blended Spanish and reggae flavors. There were plenty of hits -- including "Black Magic Woman"/"Gypsy Queen," "Maria Maria" (dedicated to Anita Baker, who watched from the pavilion) and "Smooth" -- while vintage footage accompanied "Oye Como Va" and the Woodstock-immortalized "Soul Sacrifce."

"Into the Night," "Love, Peace and Happiness" and "Freedom" brought the show to an ecstatic close, while Santana offered a peak at the future with an energetic (albeit messy) rendition of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love," which he's recorded with "Smooth" collaborator Rob Thomas for an upcoming album of classic rock songs.

Rock 'n' roll heritage also got an airing during Steve Winwood's generous 65-minute opening set, as he and his four-piece band surveyed his lengthy career from the Spencer Davis Group ("I'm a Man," "Gimme Some Lovin' "), Traffic ("40,000 Headmen," "Low Spark of the High-Heeled Boys," "Empty Pages" and a trio treatment of "Dear Mr. Fantasy"), Blind Faith ("Can't Find My Way Home") and his solo output ("Dirty City," "Higher Love"). Quiet and unassuming as ever, Winwood let his voice and fingers make the statements on organ and via his under-appreciated guitar skills.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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